Paper short abstract:
This paper presents case studies where effort were made to combine applied and theoretical scholarship. Although hitherto the question may have been how to ‘translate’ fundamental research into practice, the paper will examine how data collected in applied contexts can be used for academic purposes.
Paper long abstract:
Social engagement, but also funding opportunities -at least in the Netherlands- have taken social researchers to the domain of applied research. On the other hand, for parties receiving government funding, 'evidence' about effects of their efforts are of value to prove their subsidy-worthiness in times of declining subsidies. For policy makers, it has become increasingly important to involve citizens in policy-making, which often results in an action-research-like approach. In both cases, increasingly social researchers are involved.
Although hitherto the question may have been how to 'translate' fundamental research into practice, this paper will address the question how data collected for applied purposes can be used academically: for knowledge development and theory building.
The paper takes a practical approach presenting case studies where an effort was made to combine applied and theoretical scholarship. In a governmental project about playground development, policy makers adopted a co-creative approach in which children were consulted. In the case of event evaluation, evidence had to be gathered on the customer experience. Researchers were involved in different roles.
Important issues when exploring fruitful cross-fertilisation comprise dilemmas about methodological rigour versus usefulness and the need for quick results, and about realizing objectives of very different nature (retrieving information versus citizen involvement).
The paper will investigate these dilemmas as well as possibilities for bringing applied and fundamental research together. What are factors for success? In what way can we design a research project to not only meet the expectations of the applied part, but to also secure knowledge development?
Working in the between: theoretical scholarship and applied practice